Play The Same Stuff [on Merely A Thought Monday]

string bass with frame copy“If you are a chef, not matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” ~will.i.am

I lived most of my life believing I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was convinced that I had a tin ear. I was afraid to sing. I carried a guitar (I named her Magnolia) with me for years – a gesture of hopefulness amidst my absolute commitment to my ineptitude – and finally gave it away to someone who could play it. An instrument needs to be played and I felt I was being selfish holding onto a guitar that I would never play. Oh, how I wish I had Magnolia today.

I didn’t just make up my fear of music. I had plenty of reinforcement, lots of shaming, before I committed to a story of I CAN’T. Over time, with more and more horror experiences, my story solidified into I WON’T. Ever. Close the door. Kill the desire.

When I met Kerri – a consummate musician – I told her this: “You have to know two things about me. I don’t sing & I don’t pray.” A few months later we were driving back roads in Georgia, windows rolled down, a James Taylor CD blaring, Kerri singing at the top of her lungs, I thought it was safe to sing along. She’d never hear me. But, she did. She burst into tears and pulled the car off the road. I shook like a leaf but we sang together and it was grand.

It took her about 15 minutes to identify my obstacle. I had to relearn how to hear. That’s it. It took a few months and a willingness to mightily miss notes and my scary story of CAN’T crumbled. I learned how to feel the sound. The music was there all along.

Here’s the magic for a beginner like me: when I am rehearsing with the ukulele band or singing in the choir, I am capable of so much more than when I am practicing by myself. Playing the same stuff elevates everyone. It’s as if we transcend ourselves. Actually, we do transcend ourselves. We sync up and the energy uplifts everyone. Even me. Especially me, a toddler in knowing that I CAN.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAYING THE SAME STUFF

 

at jonathans with bear website box copy

 

 

 

 

Look Close-In [on DR Thursday]

EI7Morsel copy

Georgia O’Keeffe was a master painter of paradox. Her paintings open the expansive universe by focusing close in, approaching the mystical, the sensual through the minute. She expressed so much through minimal strokes. I suspect her paintings are an expression of how she lived. Standing still in the arroyo, listening. Moving inward to reach the outer spaces.

I am a artist of a by-gone century. While I appreciate the digital world (you would not be reading this without it), I love the visceral, the deep inner driver, the instinctual. I am tactile. I am fed by the feel of the brush moving across the canvas, the smell and splash of the paint, the dance.  A world of possibilities and paths open when mistakes are not easily erased. Kerri calls this analog.

This is a morsel, a close-in crop of my painting, Earth Interrupted VII. Look closely and you will see the meeting ground of the methodical and the spontaneous, the controlled and the improvisational. I am learning from looking close-in. I see forces merged that used to be at odds, now good dance partners. Compliments. I, too, am learning to stand still, not in the arroyo but on the shores of Lake Michigan. Visceral. Listening. Moving inward in the hope of reaching the outer spaces.

read Kerri’s post about this MORSEL

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

earth interrupted VII/morsel ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Follow The Path [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

thepathforward WITH EYES jpeg copy

Rule #1: When a path announces itself it will make no sense. Trying to understand it will make stepping onto the path problematic. The order is clear: Step first. Make sense second.

Rule #2: A path is a living thing, a relationship. A path requires engagement, experience. If you confuse yourself into thinking that the path is about achievement then you are most certainly off the path. Achievements are fixed, like trophies. Paths are fluid, like friendship. Achievements are finite games. Paths are infinite games.

Rule #3: Paths do not speak in loud voices. They whisper. To hear the path’s announcement it is often necessary to get quiet. A path is patient. It will know you are ready to listen when it sees you turn away from the chatter.

Rule #4: A path requires a single action: pick up the paint brush, preferably the big brush, dip it in the bucket of paint, and start. The need is not to know where you are going. The need is not to be right or best or wise or clever. The path merely needs you to start.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

 

read Kerri’s blog about PATHS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

sometimes the path forward announces itself ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Gear Down, Baby!

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

When writing The Seer I showed the early chapters to some pals and the response was unanimous: break it down into smaller bites. The conceptual steps were too big for readers to connect the dots.”What!” I exclaimed. “Are you kidding me!” I protested. “Are you telling me that people need me to spell it out for them? Am I supposed to hit them on the head with a hammer?” I cried in disbelief to my bemused pals. Their response to my inner adolescent was, again, unanimous: yes. You need to go slower, take smaller steps, and come a bit closer to earth. The details matter. The job is not to be understood. The job is to create understanding.

After gnashing my teeth and tearing my clothes I took their sage advice. And, it was sage advice. The book that I published was comprised of only the first three chapters from the original manuscript broken into smaller thought-bites. Breaking it down was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done. Like Horton the-hearer-of-a-Who, I discovered complete new universes in the details, in the things I’d deemed too insignificant to mention or simply didn’t see with my head so firmly in the clouds. Ironically, while writing a book entitled The Seer, I learned a lesson in seeing.

Skip laughed when we first met. He’s a very-big-thinker and, like me, sees the world from 30,000 feet. He exclaimed, “Oh, No! You have the curse, too!” From 30,000 feet, small steps and details are almost invisible or easy to ignore. From 30,000 feet, everything is inter-related, one great big dynamic flowing motion. From 30,000 feet, the ubiquitous question is, “Don’t they see?” The runner-up question is, “What’s the problem?”

As we learned in school, the devil is in the details so, with my head in the clouds I have often been surprised by the detail-devil. People on the ground plant flags and guard territory. People on the ground choose sides and assume a defensive posture before thinking to ask a single question. Fear drives swifter action than does lofty reason. People are much more complex than they seem from the conceptual heights.

And, the only way of working with a complexity is through a simplicity. Connect the dots. Do not assume that “they” will “know” or “understand.” Do not assume that “they” see what I see or believe what I believe – or that what I see or believe is better or more valid than what they see. Opening a heart is a slow affair. Listening is best done when leaning in. Asking questions before making statements is good artistic process. Be a dot that connects to the other dots. Art, in all of its forms, is meant to serve as the great dot connector.

John's Secret by David Robinson

John’s Secret by David Robinson

Kerri, no stranger to my 30,000 foot rants, has developed a short-hand phrase for those too-many-moments when I need to move slower and pay attention to the details. She is helping me with this life lesson by applying a simplicity to my complexity. Now, when I have assumed that the dots are already connected and am perplexed by the breakdown, she simply says, “gear down, baby.” Move to a lower gear and open your eyes. Connection always happens in a lower gear. What is really there is infinitely more important (and often more beautiful) than what we want to be there. Releasing the “shoulds” opens eyes and hearts for shared experiences. So, gear down, baby.

 

Simply Listen

Pieta with Paparazzi

I call this one Pieta with Paparazzi

I am standing in a lobby listening to people compare their tragedies. It is more than comparison; it is a festival of one-ups-manship. “If you think that’s bad, my niece was just diagnosed with a terrible cancer….” The first speaker, now crestfallen, reaches into her story-bag of pain as another member of the group competes, “That happened to my brother just after his daughter was hit broadside by an enormous truck!” The group coos in sympathy, each in a hurry to make their personal story of hurt the center of the conversation. I wonder at their need to outdo each other in tragedy.

I suppose it is human, this feeding frenzy of drama. I want to reject my supposition outright. Suppose it is not human? I wonder if this dis-ease is cultural, an expression of the fragmentation that comes from the too-busy, the clan that avoids internal quiet at all costs, filling every moment with television, gaming, texting, emailing, gossip-news. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in Gifts From The Sea, it is impossible to know who you are without dedicated inner spaciousness and quiet. To listen to your self is the only way to really know your self. Filling the quiet space with incessant noise withers the root.

Maybe.

All stories require conflict to move forward but it is also true that the point of all storytelling is transformation. Through the conflict we are transformed. Perhaps that is what bothers me as I listen to this pain frenzy: the emphasis is on the suffering. The investment, the identity, is in the wound, not the transformation.

There is a simple Buddhist prayer that I like:

May I dwell in my heart. May I be free from suffering. May I be healed. May I be at peace.

The prayer is like a musical round that progresses from the “I” to the “You” to the “We.” The emphasis is on the transformation. It begins with dwelling in the heart.

Maybe.

What bothers me most is the absence of the capacity to listen. The first speaker needed to be heard, not outdone. I wonder what might have happened if the group had simply said, “Tell us.” I wonder what might have happened if they had been able to be present with another’s pain. To listen, simply to listen, must be a route to free each other from suffering, to heal, to create peace.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Or, you can go here for all forms of digital options

 

And, you can go here for fine art prints of my paintingsYoga.Meditation

 

Listen Beyond The Wall

788. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Megan told me that there are cultures that never talk about disease. They believe that the spoken word has power so rather than talk about the disease they speak about the road to health. Or, they assume health and speak about it in the present tense, thus creating health.

We walk a path defined by our assumptions. We see what we expect to see. We see what we believe. When we talk about not being creative or not being good enough, that is what we reinforce. That is what we assume so that is what we create. Or that is what we create so that is the role we assume.

I learned again today (apparently a lesson with no stickiness) assumptions are tricky because they are hard to see. Assumptions are the rules for the game we play, they are the guidelines for the roles we believe we must fulfill. At the base of every miscommunication is a dueling set of assumptions.

People withhold their voices because they assume they know how others will perceive what they say. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way,” is a statement steeped in assumption. Can you ever know how others will hear what you say? People diminish their truth because they believe they know how others will react. Can we ever know?

Assumptions are scary to challenge because they orient us. We locate ourselves in the world through the assumptions we make. It takes some fortitude to suspend our assumptions. It takes a desire to reach beyond what we think we know. The skill of listening is really about hearing beyond the noise-wall of our assumptions.

I can say, “I love you” and you will hear that I am cold. You can say, “I want to be near you” and I will hear that you are pushing me away. This is the power of assumption. We crush what is dear when wrangling with our assumptions and not what was actually intended. And so the story goes.

The spoken word has power. The internal monologue has power. When Richard Bach wrote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough they are yours,” he was writing about assumptions. He was writing about the power of the word. Implied in his caution is the flipside of the coin: argue for your liberation and sure enough it is yours. The message is the same: flow happens when we can see and step beyond our assumptions.

Eat For Stillness

779. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I am exhausted today. I spurned all work and cleaned the studio. I prepared canvases. I stayed away from sharp objects and power tools. I made sure not to cross the street until I looked three times. During days of exhaustion, personal safety is the best I can do.

During my cleaning frenzy I cleared space in the studio. I made space. I created space. I needed space and that meant that things had to go. I made a rule that if I hadn’t touched the book or the tool for a year, I had to get rid of it. I got rid of a lot of stuff! Had you walked by my studio today and mentioned that you liked a painting, it would have gone home with you. I’d have given you two paintings because the spaciousness – the feeling of space – was energizing in my exhaustion.

This evening, Megan shook her finger at me for not taking good care of myself. Yesterday I forgot to eat. It happens when I get focused and busy. It won’t surprise you to learn that lack of food and exhaustion are connected. Making space and eating are both great remedies for my low energy. Megan read to me a passage from a book. The passage was about listening. According to the book listening is about stillness. Inner chatter disrupts listening. Her message was about taking care of myself inside and out. I am not listening to what I need. I am not listening to what my body is telling me. She was prompting me to return to my practice of stillness with a reminder that stillness inside is impossible if I am not caring for myself outside, not eating well, not resting appropriately.

Now that I’ve created spaciousness I intend to regain my stillness. To that end, I’m going in search of some very big, very hot, very yummy food.